Visually impaired achieve access

victor reader

Twenty nine visually impaired people, in Pietermaritzburg, have been given Victor Readers, also known as audio book players, to help them better access information.

The move is part of on-going efforts by the KwaZulu-Natal Arts and Culture Department to assist the province’s visually impaired community.

R1 million has been set aside for the mini libraries project which aims to promote a culture of reading among the visually impaired.

Content is preloaded for the users and librarians monitor them every three months. The devices are portable and work like a cellphone, using headphones to feedback the audio.

The information has been collected and converted by tertiary students assisting the programme.

Beneficiaries of the project are selected through research conducted by The National Blind Society and district municipalities, in conjunction with the provincial department.

Officials will continue conducting visits to communities across the province to add more names to the department’s database.

The department, which opened seven mini libraries in various districts across KZN last year, will open another seven in 2014.

Each of these facilities will have a document reader, also known as a DAISY (Digital Accessible Information System) machine. The machine can read the content of any document or newspaper that is placed on it.

Mandla Ntombela, the Chief Librarian at the Bessie Head Library which is in the Msunduzi Municipality, has expressed his confidence in the project.

“This project will improve the lives of many visually impaired people living in KwaZulu-Natal as it will afford them the opportunity to better themselves by furthering their education and keeping informed of what is happening in the province, country and world at large,” said provincial Arts and Culture MEC Ntombikayise Sibhidla-Saphetha. –

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